The Persian manuscript collection

The Persian manuscript collection contains 153 volumes which came from four distinct areas of the Persianate world, India, Iran, the Ottoman Empire (or pre-Ottoman Anatolia) and Central Asia.

Most of the volumes coming from India were purchased by Alexander Kégl (1862–1920), the par excellence founder of Iranian Studies in Hungary. Kégl was mainly interested in Persian literature, thus literary works formed the backbone of his collection. The earliest volume of his collection is the earliest of all the Persian manuscripts preserved in the library, a copy of Naṣr-Allāh Munshī’s version of Kalīlah u Dimnah finished on 13 Shavvāl 719 / 26 November 1319.

Perzsa O. 057

Besides works by the classics of the Persian literary tradition (Niẓāmī, Khāqānī, Sa`dī, Anvarī, Amīr Khusraw, Ḥāfiẓ, Jāmī, etc.) Kégl had several volumes by less known or unnamed authors.

He also purchased several volumes on other subjects as well, among them a nice copy of a late 18th century translation of the Bhagavadgītā made by a Kashmīrī author, Khushdil.

Perzsa O. 075
Manuscripts possibly copied in Iran are represented by a small number of works in the collection.

A unique copy of Maḥmūd Mīrzā Qājār’s Majma`-i Maḥmūd (Perzsa F. 014) was gifted to Arminius Vámbéry (1832–1913) by General Károly (Carl) Wagner (d. 1902), a Hungarian general in the service of the Shah.

The collection has a finely executed copy of the Kulliyāt of Ahlī Shīrāzī (Perzsa F. 07) possibly copied in Shiraz for a well-to-do patron.

Perzsa F. 07
Perzsa F. 07

The oldest volume of possibly Ottoman (or pre-Ottoman Anatolian) provenance is a copy of Sulṭān Valad’s Rabābnāmah (Perzsa Qu. 08) finished in Shavvāl 743 / March 1343.

Mention should be made here of a copy of Jāmī’s (817-898/1414-1492) Dīvān (Perzsa O. 049) which had been copied twenty years before the poet passed away. The "Ottoman" group of manuscripts include several works written by Ottoman authors in Persian.

Perzsa O. 049

The copy of a rare treatise on astrology, the Zīj-i Yamīnī by Muḥammad ibn `Alī ibn Mālik ibn Abī Naṣr al-Ḥaqā'iq (fl. mid-6th/12th century; Perzsa O. 010) might also have been copied somewhere in the Ottoman world in 919/1513.

Perzsa O. 010

Most of the manuscripts copied in Central Asia were brought to Hungary by Bertalan Ónody (d. 1892), a Hungarian landowner and Arminius Vámbéry both of whom travelled to Central Asia in the 1860s–1870s. Ónody donated to the library among others a mid-18th century copy of Qā’inī Haravī’s (fl. around 1163-1184/1750-1770) medical work titled `Amal-i ṣāliḥ (Perzsa F. 013) and a late 15th century illustrated copy of the Shāhnāmah (Perzsa F. 12). The volume, which was finished before 903/1497, is decorated with 16 paintings.

The Central Asian batch of the Vámbéry collection is represented mainly by works focusing on Central Asian history and literature such as the Tārīkh-i Sayyid Raqīm by Sharaf al-Dīn A`lam ibn Nūr al-Dīn (fl. 17–18th century) copied in 1172/1758 (Perzsa O. 017) and the Dakhmah-‘i shāhān (Perzsa O. 047) by Muḥammad Ṣādiq Munshī Jāndārī (fl. late 18th century).

Perzsa F. 12
The on-line cataloguing of the Persian manuscripts was made possible by a generous grant from The Islamic Manuscripts Association.

The records were created by two Hungarian Iranists, Dr. Benedek Péri and Dr. Miklós Sárközy on the basis of preliminary descriptions by a native cataloguer, Mojdeh Muhammadi (Special Library of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran).

The curator of the Persian manuscripts, Dr. Nándor Erik Kovács was responsible for the revision of the off-line records, created by the cataloguers and their upload into the system, together with the upload of digital images in the Library’s repository as well as the meta-data control of the digitized MSS.

The language of the description is English, but the incipit, explicit and the colophon are given in the original Persian (in Arabic script). In addition to the transliteration used in the Library, the names and the titles have also been given in Arabic script, and LoC transliteration as well. Detailed descriptions, including codicological information, ownership, etc. are also provided.

The views, opinions, findings and conclusions of the authors expressed herein are those of the authors and do not state or reflect the views or policies of The Islamic Manuscript Association Ltd. ("The Association"), or its members and employees. The Association disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from or in connection with errors, omissions as well as for the accuracy, legality, reliability of any information contained herein.